Philosophy and policy in higher education

Philosophy and policy in higher education

There are two videos following, which are like a supplementary lecture for the session.

Please watch these videos and read the short extracts (200 words or so) below from Maskell and Robinson (2001), The new idea of the university, the OECD (2012) Conference, Institutional management in higher education, and Robert Pirsig (1974) Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance; and be prepared to discuss. There is an extra treat at the end of the page. Enjoy.

Extract from Maskell, D. & Robinson, I. (2001). The new idea of a university, London: Haven Books

Universities are supposed by the Charter [for Higher Education, 1993] to "deliver" a "service", namely higher education to "customers", in two divisions, firstly students, and secondly business which "buys" both education and the results of commissioned research. The "delivery" to students is by way of "teaching" or "effective management of ... learning", in "courses", all of which have "aims and structures" clearly described in advance, and any of which include "transferrable skills like problem solving and effective communication". The standards of these providers of teaching are guaranteed by "quality assurance systems" which will be "regularly audited" and will enable applicants to discover “… how well different universities and colleges are performing".

Each of these phrases within quotation marks, and all of them cumulatively betray a conception of higher education which is not only not that of the university, but is actively hostile to the university.

Extracted from OECD (2012) Conference: Institutional management on higher education

Higher education institutions are expected to provide education and training relevant to labour market demands, conduct research activities that will build a knowledge-based economy, as well as contribute to social cohesion, regional development and global well-being.
They must also strive constantly to fulfil their multiple missions, improve the quality of the education provided, increase their efficiency and demonstrate their contribution to society.

Extract from Robert Pirsig (1974), Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance

The real university has no specific location … [it] is a state of mind. It is that great cultural heritage of rational thought that has been brought down to us through the centuries … which is regenerated throughout the centuries by a body of people who traditionally carry the title of [academics] … The real university is nothing less than the continuing body of reason itself.

And for more fun... the debate continues to this day

If you wish you might like to watch another video, linked from here. This is David Kernohan's critique of current policy trends in higher education, encapsulated in Barber, Michael, Katelyn Donnelly, and Saad Rizvi. 2013. “An Avalanche Is Coming: Higher Education and the Revolution Ahead”. IPPR.

Last modified: Friday, 15 January 2016, 1:08 PM